News Release

Latter-day Saints Around the World: Country Newsroom Websites, June 25, 2021

Featuring service provided in the United States, Chile, Bolivia, Guatemala and New Zealand.

Newsroom features stories from its dozens of websites around the world to show what members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are doing to serve their communities. Today, we feature news from the United States, Chile, Bolivia, Guatemala and New Zealand.

United States: Juneteenth Celebrated with Stories of Resilience from Black Miners During California’s Gold Rush Era

The California Legislative Black Caucus celebrated Juneteenth (a national holiday commemorating the emancipation of slaves, observed on June 19) with assistance from FamilySearch, a non-profit organization operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that offers genealogical records and software. Family history experts and technicians joined Caucus members at the California Museum on June 22 to help participants research their ancestors.

This year, speakers and presenters focused on Black miners and their part in California’s gold rush. “[My] Great-great-grandfather, Rufus Burgess, was brought to California as a slave. He was with James Marshall when gold was discovered,” said Jon Burgess, president of the California African American Gold Rush Association. “Rufus stayed in Coloma and earned enough money mining to pay for his own freedom and to send for his family to come to California. He also sent portions of his ‘diggings’ to the Convention of Colored Citizens to fight for rights and freedoms of those who were still enslaved in the South.”

The legacies of Black miners and early Latter-day Saints who traveled west to California are intertwined as both groups had a significant impact on the growth of the state and a similar desire to escape oppression.

“The discovery of gold by members of the Mormon Battalion in California created one of the largest migrations in the history of the world. The connection of African American gold rush history, especially of freed slaves searching for a new life, safety and security in the West, resonates with all Californians and members of the Church,” said California Assemblyman Tom Lackey.

The event, sponsored by the California Legislative Black Caucus, the California State Library, the California Secretary of State, the Sacramento African American Genealogical Society, FamilySearch International and the California African American Gold Rush Association, brought to light many other legacies and a feeling of kinship among the participants. “Stories like these inspire and sustain us in difficult times,” Burgess said.

Chile: Medical Equipment Donated to Support Cancer Patients

The Cancer Aid Group (Adaec) located in Tocopilla, Chile, received a donation of medical supplies from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in mid-June. Items donated included cots, wheelchairs, walkers, blood pressure cuffs, oxygen regulators, adult diapers, masks, blankets, gloves and other essentials.

An article from the Chile Newsroom says the equipment will support patients “who face complex diagnoses and whose needs and requirements have increased in this pandemic.” Jaime Maldonado, president of Adaec, expressed his gratitude for the support. “This donation has come at a very important time, because today [the delivery of help and support to our patients is hindered],” he said. “[During the pandemic] all the activities we did to raise funds have stopped, so we have already been unable to generate resources for our own work and effort for more than a year, so this help comes at a very precise moment, allowing us [to] continue fulfilling our role as a group.”

Children with disabilities at the Fundación Hogar San José benefit from 200 food kits donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bolivia, May 2021.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Bolivia: Church Donates Food to Foundation for Children with Disabilities

On Tuesday, May 25, Church representatives delivered 200 food kits to the Fundación Hogar San José, located in the province of Warnes, Bolivia.

The Bolivia Newsroom describes the foundation as an institution that receives children ranging from infants to 15-year-old teenagers with physical, mental or sensory disabilities who come from homes with limited resources or who have been abandoned. The foundation seeks to provide medical care, education and training to help the children gain skills that will improve their quality of life.

“You are guardian angels who are helping us to continue with this work and to move forward,” said José Alirio Henao, director of the Fundación Hogar San José.

United States: Latter-day Saints Assist Neighbors Affected by Flood in Texas

Residents in the West Texas town of Hamlin were hit by a devastating flood. Some 50 Latter-day Saints arrived on June 5 to help with large trucks, trailers and other supplies.

Heavy rains caused creeks to overflow and sent muddy water as high as 20 inches into homes. After identifying and prioritizing the needs of the flood victims with the American Red Cross and the chief of police in Hamlin, the volunteers cleaned out mud, removed damaged furnishings and handed out food, water and trash bags.

Natalee Bradshaw, a Relief Society (the women’s organization for the Church) president in West Texas, said, “The extent of the damage had been described to me, but seeing it in person was overwhelming. My heart broke for the flood victims. I’m honored I had the chance to meet some of our neighbors in need and do what little I could to help.”

The Domingo Fausto Sarmiento and Victor Monterroso public schools receive new furniture and equipment from Church representatives, Guatemala, June 2021.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Guatemala: Public Schools Improved with Contributions of Furniture and Equipment

The Church donated stoves, air conditioners, furniture and other items to Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and Victor Monterroso de Cuilapa, two public schools in Santa Rosa, Guatemala. The items will benefit more than 1,000 students. President Giovanni Granillo, advisor to the Cuilapa District presidency of the Church, delivered the materials. The contributions were made possible by monetary donations from local Latter-day Saints.

“Children will be able to return to school in better conditions despite the challenges that the pandemic presents,” said Julio Sánchez, director of the Domingo Fausto Sarmiento School. “[We] know that this donation is a great blessing.”

More details about the donation can be found on the Guatemala Newsroom.

United States: South Dakota Food Pantries Stocked with Church Donations

More than 30 Church members and missionaries volunteered on June 10, 2021, to assemble food donations for 14 food pantries in the Black Hills area of South Dakota. Families Working Together, a nonprofit that serves Pine Ridge Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota, also received donations.

Richard Hemming, a senior service missionary, coordinated the service project with his wife. “We witnessed some extraordinary talent, attitudes and teamwork,” he said. “All pantry food orders were assembled and completed [in a matter of hours], which seemed impossible as we began working.”

Lang Ming shows some of the shrubbery to be planted at the Wenderholm Regional Park near Auckland, during a multi-day .community service project by the Pacific Area Office staff. New Zealand, June 20212021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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New Zealand: 600 Trees Planted in Wenderholm Regional Park

Twenty-five Latter-day Saints in Auckland, New Zealand, planted 600 trees in Wenderholm Regional Park in just four hours. The Park is used for camping, picnics and beach visits, and is home to several species of native birds. According to the New Zealand Newsroom, the new trees will “help to diversify the vegetation, which is important for attracting native birds and retaining moisture in the soil.”

Mike Ramirez, a local Church employee, said the “trees will live longer than any of us and will stand as a monument for generations to see and enjoy.”

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